You’re stuck at your computer, plugging away at an overwhelming to-do list, when all of the sudden you get distracted by stunning travel photos a friend just uploaded to Facebook.
An intense case of wanderlust strikes. You’re now clicking through to find out more about your friend’s adventures somewhere in the world, as well as to get inspiration for your own future travels.
Even if you work in the travel and tourism industry, chances are that it only takes is one selfie in paradise to have you daydreaming about your next escape.
Given our own attraction to receiving travel inspiration via social media, it should come as no surprise that social media is dramatically changing the way people plan their trips and vacations.
However, so many small businesses in the travel and tourism industry are still hesitant to invest in their social media marketing efforts. After all, with review sites like TripAdvisor, do social media platforms actually deliver a significant return on investment? Do potential customers actually see your posts?
The answer is, of course, YES.
If you’re a luxury travel and tourism business that is dedicated to providing once-in-a-lifetime experiences to travelers from around the world, then keep reading. You’ll learn how social media is influencing travelers—and how your brand can utilize these findings to increase brand awareness, conversion rates and industry authority.
It’s no longer about where travelers want to go, but where their social media connections have already been.
This isn’t necessarily new. In 2012, Forbes wrote an article about the power of social media for word-of-mouth marketing in the travel and tourism industry. According to the article:
And that’s not all. This super comprehensive compilation of statistics by Rezdyshows that:
Given these numbers, it is clear that social media harnesses immense power to influence travelers decisions—and bring in higher profits for luxury travel and tourism businesses.
But you can’t just spam your followers with information about your products and offerings alone. So please stop now if that’s all you have been doing. Serious success takes a solid grasp of the fundamentals of a powerful social media marketing strategy. (If you aren’t sure what that means—or you need a review of what it takes to create rockstar social media communities, take a moment to read this post.)
When businesses think about their social media ROI (return on investment), the first thing to come to mind is the direct sales & profit their social media networks bring in. But this isn’t all that a powerful social media strategy can do.
Because of social media’s global immediacy, more and more customers are now heading to social media to voice their questions, complaints and experiences with travel and tourism brands.
Even if you’re operating on a much smaller scale than the Hyatt, social media is a powerful way to get on-the-ground feedback about your offerings, and provide valuable support and customer service when needed. It will especially set you apart from the rest paying attention to this detail.
And as we’ve talked about before, social media is a fantastic way to amp up your branding and become an authority in your industry. By sharing what’s trending in your niche and creating an engaged fan base that comes to you for valuable, interesting information, you’ll reap the benefits of increased brand awareness, brand loyalty and brand authority. You become THE expert on your location and particular type of offering.
Look at Butterfield and Robinson, one of our favorite tourism companies that we featured on our branding segment. Not only does this luxury tour agency have one of the best brands in the industry, they also have a rockstar content marketing strategy. Their Slow Road blog puts expert staffers in the spotlight, offering global travel tips that are not only insightful and inspiring, but also make you want to come to Butterfield and Robinson for all of your soaking-up-the-scenery travel needs.
As more and more travelers are using social media to assist them in the trip planning process, it is important to identify where your target audience is engaged(ie which social media platform), and how you can join in that conversation.
Not only is this crucial for the highest potential return on investment, but it’s also necessary if your travel business wants to benefit from user-generated branding. Remember, it’s not just the narrative that you are creating about your brand that matters, but what your CUSTOMERS have to say about it, too. Social proof is the branding that your customers do FOR you!
And that’s the beauty of social media. It’s a two-way conversation that allows past and present customers to paint a picture of the experience you are offering and that they have already experienced. If you are truly committed to going above and beyond to create those once-in-a-lifetime travel memories (which I know you are) then this is great news for you!
Here’s a quick summary of the most valuable social media platforms for travel companies:
Not only does Twitter allow you to monitor in and engage with conversations about your brand, there is a unique global immediacy to what you have to say. Just take the instant virility of the Oreo Blackout Tweet.
Potential customers EXPECT you to be on Facebook. Having a searchable Facebook page is almost as important as a website. Create an engaged community, share relevant content, and upload gorgeous photos that reinforce your brand and destination- that are begging to be shared!
If you’re blogging and providing valuable content, then Pinterest could be your number one source of highly-targeted traffic. People love stunning images that paint a picture of their dream travel destinations. Thousands are creating boards right now of your location & could organically find your company! And Pinterest is more than just a social media network—it’s actually a search engine in and of itself, and it’s set to SURGE in 2016.
Gorgeous photos that show people what it is really like to be where you are, right now. It’s difficult to track conversion rates from Instagram, but this is a no-brainer for creating brand awareness and a serious case of wanderlust. There is a serious long-term marketing strategy will building up a following here. Check out my top 13 Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration here.
As with all aspects of your online marketing strategies, it’s important to take the time to measure the effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts. Use analytics to track who is clicking through to the reservation forms on your blog. Offer social media only discounts and monitor how many are utilized. Track engagement and increased mentions of your brand.
This is a great place to call in a social media expert who has the experience and knowledge to break down the numbers into bite-sized nuggets of gold—and provide tangible action steps for moving forward in the future.
The power of social media to influence travelers’ decisions is only going to continue to increase. If you don’t take the time to build your presence on applicable platforms, you risk falling behind—and that means losing out on serious potential profit + the ability to share your unique brilliance with those who truly want it.
If you feel confused on the next steps or you know that you need a team to support you in achieving your big ambitions, then send me an e-mail. I’d love to support you on your path as a trailblazing entrepreneur providing one of the most valuable things of all—life-changing travel experiences.
What are your favorite travel + tourism brands to follow on social media? If you’re in the tourism industry, how do you use social media to build your brand and engage with potential customers?